24 Sep 2019 Story Chemicals & waste

The Federated States of Micronesia partners with UNEP to strengthen its capacity to manage chemical waste

Photo by Yap State Environmental Protection Agency

Sitting at the crossroads of major currents from the Indian Ocean, the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the 607 islands that make up the Micronesia region are home to some of the richest and most biodiverse underwater ecosystems in the world. Along with its island forests and spectacular waterfalls, the Federated States of Micronesia is known for its stunning beauty.

But unless waste and chemicals are properly managed, this jewel of nature could be under threat. Micronesia imports a number of chemicals which are used in various sectors including agriculture, health and pest control. Without adequate life-cycle management, these chemicals and associated waste could pose serious risks to both the environment and the health of locals.

To help ensure that the dangers associated with the import of chemicals are minimized, Micronesia has partnered with the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme on an three-year project to strengthen the country’s institutional capacity for managing chemicals and waste in accordance with obligations under the Basel and Stockholm conventions to which Micronesia is a signatory.

Within the first six months of the project, a project management unit will be established to oversee the implementation and monitoring of activities, as well as reporting on progress throughout. A project steering committee will also be created and will meet quarterly to provide leadership and strategic oversight. This will include reviewing progress and outputs, while recommending corrective actions when necessary.

Once established, the project management unit will be responsible for developing a national chemicals profile and inventory, providing a comprehensive assessment of the existing legal, institutional, administrative and technical infrastructure relating to life-cycle chemicals management. This process will help Micronesia identify key national priorities when it comes to chemicals and waste management, as well as gaps in policy that may require legislative reform.

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Storeroom of collected hazardous chemicals including used oil in Yap state, Federated States of Micronesia. Photo by Yap State Environmental Protection Agency

The project will also involve the development of a national chemicals management policy to outline a long-term direction for the environmentally sound and sustainable life-cycle management of chemicals. Along with key recommendations for future legal reform, this will ensure that managing chemicals and waste becomes a central and sustainable part of Micronesia’s environmental policy long after the project’s completion.

Additionally, Micronesia will work to develop a centralized chemicals and waste management database. The database will include chemical inventories, waste recycling, disposal and export activities, details of contaminated sites, capacity-building activities, and data required to meet reporting obligations under relevant conventions.

Capacity-building activities will strengthen knowledge and enforcement of chemicals and waste management across the country. They will include customs officers, customs brokers, and enforcement agencies in areas like detection and classification of chemicals. Training programmes for different target audiences in the population at large such as school teachers, chemical importers and health workers will also be proposed.

The project will have a particular focus on gender, with equal representation of women on the project steering committee, to promote women’s engagement in national decision-making processes. Data on chemicals and waste will also be used to improve the understanding of how women and children are impacted by chemicals to inform policies and training. Women will also be encouraged to participate in capacity development programmes.

Throughout the three-year project, Micronesia will work to ensure that all of these changes to its chemicals and waste management programme—from institutional reform to capacity-building and database development—become permanent elements of its long-term environmental policy, ensuring that the country’s pristine natural environment remains safeguarded for generations to come.

 

For further information please contact the Special Programme Secretariat at [email protected]